TCUP Book Club Reads Russian Energy Chains in October

September 8, 2021
Russian Energy Chains book cover with TCUP reads information

HURI’s Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program will hold its sixth month-long, interactive book club in October 2021. Readers receive weekly emails and can discuss on Twitter, as well as attend events with the author. 
This fall, TCUP Book Club will tackle one of the most important topics for contemporary Ukraine, energy politics, with one of the most prolific experts on the topic, HURI Associate Margarita Balmaceda. Dr. Balmaceda’s book Russian Energy Chains: The Remaking of Technopolitics from Siberia to Ukraine to the European Union (2021, Columbia University Press) places energy issues into global geopolitics and diplomacy, with Ukraine at the center of the discussion. 
Readers who sign up for Book Club will receive a discount from the publisher, as well as the chance to participate in a members-only event with Dr. Balmaceda. She will also give a public lecture on her book on October 27, 2021, on Zoom at 12:00 noon.
Russian Energy Chains can be purchased through Columbia University Press or your local bookstore. It is also available as an e-book through CUP and Amazon.


Book Description

Russia’s use of its vast energy resources for leverage against post-Soviet states such as Ukraine is widely recognized as a threat. Yet we cannot understand this danger without also understanding the opportunity that Russian energy represents. From corruption-related profits to transportation-fee income to subsidized prices, many within these states have benefited by participating in Russian energy exports. To understand Russian energy power in the region, it is necessary to look at the entire value chain—including production, processing, transportation, and marketing—and at the full spectrum of domestic and external actors involved, from Gazprom to regional oligarchs to European Union regulators.

This book follows Russia’s three largest fossil-fuel exports—natural gas, oil, and coal—from production in Siberia through transportation via Ukraine to final use in Germany in order to understand the tension between energy as threat and as opportunity. Margarita M. Balmaceda reveals how this dynamic has been a key driver of political development in post-Soviet states in the period between independence in 1991 and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. She analyzes how the physical characteristics of different types of energy, by shaping how they can be transported, distributed, and even stolen, affect how each is used—not only technically but also politically. Both a geopolitical travelogue of the journey of three fossil fuels across continents and an incisive analysis of technology’s role in fossil-fuel politics and economics, this book offers new ways of thinking about energy in Eurasia and beyond.

Join the Club

Register online to receive a discount code, weekly emails, and reminders to engage online. Follow @HURI_Harvard and @channelljustice on Twitter and use hashtag #TCUPreadsBalmaceda to find or contribute to the book discussion.

The Book Club will culminate in a live event with author Margarita Balmaceda, held over Zoom as part of HURI's Seminar in Ukrainian Studies. The event is open to the public and will take place on Wednesday, October 27 from 12:00 to 1:15pm EDT. More information, including registration, is forthcoming and will be emailed to Book Club members.

About the Author

Margarita M. Balmaceda is a professor of diplomacy and international relations at Seton Hall University. She is also an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Her books include The Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania Between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure (2013) and Living the High Life in Minsk: Russian Energy Rents, Domestic Populism, and Belarus’ Impending Crisis (2014).

See also: TCUP